COVID-19 advice

This page will be regularly updated with all guidance and advice relating to COVID-19 for owners and members of the ROA.

Supporting You

We would like to thank you for your continued support during these uncertain times and give reassurance that we are committed to helping owners through this challenging period. 
 
Please do check the ROA’s online resources at roa.co.uk for the latest information.  Should you have any specific queries that we can assist with, please contact us via info@roa.co.uk or contact the team on the office number of 01183 385680.
  
We have compiled some support guidance for owners as part of the British racing industry’s Coronavirus response, and the ROA along with industry leaders are continuing to develop proposals which will further assist Owners.

Racing Relief Fund

A new industry scheme – the Racing Relief Fund – will be led by the Racehorse Owners Association to meet the welfare needs of horses whose owners are suffering financial hardship. Supported by the Racing Foundation, this alone will provide up to £2.5 million of grants to assist with the costs of looking after horses, in racing stables and in rehoming centres.   

The establishment of a Racing Relief Fund of up to £2.5m

The establishment of this fund is designed to meet the welfare needs of horses who may be at risk if owners become unable to support them. The industry’s charity, Retraining of Racehorses, will work alongside others including the Racehorse Owners Association and key members of the Horse Welfare Board to ensure that the welfare needs of horses are given the priority that would be expected by those within and outside the industry.

Please contact the ROA for further details on info@roa.co.uk

Equine Welfare

Trainers are especially reliant on Owners at the moment, in order to maintain their businesses and to ensure the continued care of our horses. I know we all take our responsibilities seriously in this respect. During this period, we are therefore actively encouraging Owners and Trainers to maintain strong mutual communication channels, and further support can be provided by the ROA or the NTF in relation to these areas.

DEFRA advice

DEFRA advice is updated frequently and contains advice for pet owners and livestock keepers on maintaining the welfare of their animals during the coronavirus pandemic.

Members are advised to sign up for updates on this page, especially if they have their horses at home at the moment:

DEFRA COVID-19 advice page

Equine Flu vaccinations

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA)’s cross-industry Veterinary Committee – in conjunction with the British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA) and British Equestrian Federation (BEF) – has today approved a proposal regarding the vaccination schedule for equine influenza in British racehorses. The move has been made in order to help trainers, owners and vets tackle the significant logistical challenges caused by the coronavirus pandemic, and provide clarity for all.

During the remainder of 2020, for a horse to be eligible to compete in Britain it will be necessary to have received an approved equine influenza vaccination within the last 12 months, instead of the existing nine-month requirement. The 12-month approach reflects the policy that was in place in Britain prior to 2019.

The existing BHA policy that vaccinations must have taken place within the last nine months is an interim policy pending a full industry consultation on what the permanent protocol should be. However, the Veterinary Committee, BEVA and the BEF are in agreement that because of the movement restrictions currently in force, the levels of immunity in this population developed as a result of  the  intensive vaccination activity over the last 12 months, and the fact that there have been no reported equine influenza cases in the horse population in the UK this year, the move to the old vaccination protocol does not represent a significant risk for the remainder of 2020.

The reason for this change is to simplify the advice to owners, trainers and vets no matter how long the effect of COVID-19 impacts on equestrian sports and veterinary activities. It gives trainers and vets clear direction for the rest of the year and allows them to plan their vaccination schedules with certainty. It also reflects the difficulties for trainers and vets in administering vaccinations while restrictions on movement and human contact are in place and allows for the racing herd to return to full activities as soon as possible once racing resumes.

In order to continue to best protect the racing industry from the effects of equine influenza it is suggested that, where possible, the current nine-month regulations are adhered to. However, given the current COVID-19 government requirements it is clear that this will not always be achievable, and provided that a horse has had an approved vaccination within the last 12 months it will remain eligible to compete when racing resumes.

The initial vaccination intervals for primary vaccinations and booster vaccinations will also reflect the protocols that were in place under the old 12-month protocols.

The change to the policy is currently in place for 2020 only. The Veterinary Committee will continue to monitor the situation and make further recommendations when necessary. Previously the BHA had announced its intention to hold a consultation in 2020 on permanent changes to the vaccination protocols. This consultation will be temporarily delayed while resources are dedicated to managing the coronavirus outbreak, but will be carried out as soon as is practicable.

Summary of Requirements for the remainder of 2020

  • There will be a relaxation of the current requirement for a booster within 9 months of raceday – for the remainder of 2020, all horses must have received booster vaccinations of not more than one year apart.
  • If any vaccination is administered late (either an annual booster over one year apart, or any of the primary course vaccinations), the horse will have to re-start a new primary course.
  • For full details of primary course requirements, please the Vaccinations Code.
  • The proposed consultation for vaccination harmonisation across Europe will be temporarily delayed, and carried out as soon as is reasonably practicable.
  • The BHA Veterinary Committee will continue to monitor the situation, and make further recommendations when necessary.

 

Q&A

What if my horse goes over a year without a vaccination? 

If this was to occur then you would need to restart your vaccination process from the beginning.

What if my horse goes over a year without a primary or secondary booster?

Again you would need to restart your program as from the beginning.

What will happen in 2021 – when will the nine months return?

This is yet to be determined and will depend on the consultation and also the wider situation regarding COVID-19 and the effect on routine vaccinations by stable veterinarians.

Are these calendar months or days?

12 months refers to 12 calendar months as per usual, rather than 365 days

What happens if my horse isn’t racing – can he go over one year without having to re-start?

No, if the horse was to go over a year without a vaccination then it would need to restart a program from the beginning, whether it is racing or not.

Notes:

About the BHA Veterinary Committee

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA)’s Veterinary Committee advises on all veterinary matters affecting racing and the health and welfare of racehorses. It contains representatives of the BHA, Association of Racecourse Veterinary Surgeons (ARVS), British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA), National Trainers Federation (NTF), Racehorse Owners Association (ROA), Animal Health Trust (AHT), Thoroughbred Breeders Association (TBA), Racecourse Association (RCA) and Independent expertise.

About the British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA)

BEVA is a world leading equine veterinary association committed to championing high standards of equine health and welfare. We advance the veterinary and allied sciences, promote scientific excellence and educate equine veterinary professionals throughout the world. More information: https://www.beva.org.uk/About-BEVA

About the British Equestrian Federation (BEF)

The British Equestrian Federation (BEF) is the National Governing Body for horse sports in the UK, affiliated to the Federation Equestre Internationale  (FEI), the international governing body of equestrian sports. It exists to provide leadership, vision and purpose in steering the direction of equestrianism. Its patron is HRH The Duchess of Cornwall. More information: https://www.bef.co.uk/Default.aspx

Industry protocols for Breeders

The TBA has produced a guide for Breeders, which can be downloaded here:

Industry protocols for Breeders

The TBA COVID-19 page also has a number of useful templates for breeders:

TBA COVID-19 page

Moving Horses

Points to consider for owners around horse movement

Communication

Keep up good communication with your trainer. Let your trainer know how the current situation is affecting you.  It will help your trainer plan your horse’s care and training and help them to plan their business accordingly.

 

Training agreement/variation in terms

For horses in training, where a variation in terms is agreed between you and your trainer get it confirmed in writing.  A clearly written email will suffice.  This will serve as an update to your training agreement. A current agreement is required under the Rules of Racing, 15, Trainer Code.  The ROA / NTF template of the training agreement can be found here

 

Transporting horses

The equine industry is awaiting updated guidance from DEFRA on the movement of horses following the Government introduced restrictions of 23 March.  In the meantime, the Thoroughbred Breeders Association issued a protocol which covers transport of horses to studs and draft template for boarding studs transporting mares for covering and return.

https://www.thetba.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/COVID-19-protocol-for-thoroughbred-breeders.pdf     The TBA website also includes a draft template for boarding studs transporting mares for covering and return.

 

Transfer of Responsibility

Under the Rules of Racing your trainer will be required to mark your horse/s as being taken out of their care and control. 

They will record where a horse is transferred to you as its owner.  An email will be triggered to you via the Racing Admin website noting the date the horse left the care of the trainer and explaining the requirements of transfer of responsibility.

In accordance with Equine Anti-Doping Rules, you will need to accept the transfer of responsibility. This can be done quickly and easily by logging in to the My Horses section of Racing Admin www.racingadmin.co.uk

If you don’t have your login, or have problems logging in, a Transfer of Responsible Person form will need to be completed.  If necessary, a copy can be downloaded from:

https://www.britishhorseracing.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Transfer-of-Responsible-Person-Form-october-2019-update.pdf

Please note that failure to do so doesn’t absolve you from your responsibilities under the Equine Anti-Doping Rules. For further information see

https://www.britishhorseracing.com/regulation/anti-doping-medication-control/guidance-on-prohibited-substances/

 

ROA Members Third Party Liability scheme

During this very difficult time we are mindful that owners may have horses whose seasons have had to finish prematurely, or who will have been sent away from their trainers’ yards for a prolonged period of rest or turnout. We would remind members to check with the ​owners/proprietors of such premises that they have the requisite Third Party Liability cover in place (for a minimum limit of indemnity of £2 million, but ideally for up to £5 million).

If your racehorse(s) normally return to your home or your own premises for their rest periods, or if you are intending to do this due to the exceptional current circumstances you should check your liability cover will extend to include these. Most household policies include domestic animals; whilst this may include leisure horses and ponies it may not include racehorses whilst resting.

Should you have any queries please use the attached link to contact details for our insurance brokers Weatherbys Hamilton who will be happy to help https://www.roa.co.uk/benefits/third.html.

 

Horses returning to racing

Owners are reminded of the following anti-doping regulations.

http://rules.britishhorseracing.com/#!/book/34/chapter/s3457-anti-doping

 

Vaccination schedule: equine influenza

For the remainder of 2020, for a horse to be eligible to compete in Britain it will be necessary to have received an approved equine influenza vaccination within the last 12 months, instead of the existing nine-month requirement. The 12-month approach reflects the policy that was in place in Britain prior to 2019.
 
For full details see https://www.britishhorseracing.com/press_releases/equine-influenza-vaccination-requirements-temporarily-relaxed-owing-to-coronavirus-outbreak/
 

Horses retiring from racing 

Both owners and trainers (acting as an agent for the owner) are able to notify the BHA about the decision to retire a horse from racing through the Racing Admin website at www2.racingadmin.co.uk

The owner/trainer will be asked to confirm:

  • The reason for the horse’s retirement
  • Restrictions on racing in the future (non-racing agreement)
  • Details of the horse’s new keeper

Completion of the online form triggers the start of the permanent retirement process, which takes 14 days; after that date the horse is made ineligible to run and is no longer bound by the Rules of Racing.

It also triggers a notification to any new keeper, advising them that they are responsible for completing a transfer of ownership within 30 days. If the new keeper fails to do this, they may incur a fine of up to £5,000 from Trading Standards.


New owner details

Where the horse has a new owner, the new owner’s name, email address and postcode will need to be uploaded by the trainer​/owner when giving notification of retirement through the Racing Admin website.

This information helps ensure the racing industry can identify and have the fullest possible traceability for those racehorses that have retired from the sport.

A dedicated page on the BHA’s website will allow participants to check the retirement status of any horse. This can be found at https://selim.britishhorseracing.com/padua/

 

Passports

To update ownership information online (for horses not in training) see weatherbysgsb.co.uk

In the case of a horse that dies or is euthanised the passport must be returned to Weatherbys within 30 days, along with a note stating the date of death.  Passports can be returned to the owner upon request.

 

Life after racing

BHA provides guidance around a racehorse’s life after racing https://www.britishhorseracing.com/regulation/life-after-racing/

 

Retraining of Racehorses (RoR)

As British horseracing’s official charity for the welfare of retired racehorses, Retraining of Racehorses (RoR) places great value on improving traceability. In addition to meeting legal requirements in updating the passport, the owners of former racehorses should register their horse with RoR.

Initial registration is free, ensuring both ongoing traceability of where a horse is in retirement, and providing the new keeper with a support network. Registering for free includes the opportunity to benefit from the extensive programme of educational activities run by RoR. Last year over 300 educational events were available to those registered with RoR.

RoR also assists racing owners and trainers in rehoming and retraining their horses. The charity offers an advice line, the Source a Horse website facility and a retrainers directory. RoR is also awaiting funding to roll out a nationwide network of regional field officers who, once recruited, will be the on the ground points of contact for owners and trainers.

https://www.ror.org.uk/

 

Central Equine Database

The Central Equine Database is used by equine Passport Issuing Organisations (PIOs) who upload passport records, and by regulatory bodies including Defra, the Devolved Administrations (for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland), the Food Standards Agency and Local Authority Trading Standards.

Owners can register with the Digital Stable at https://www.equineregister.co.uk/home

 

Further information

If you require any additional guidance, the following membership organisations resources may be helpful:

Owners – https://www.roa.co.uk/

Trainers – https://www.racehorsetrainers.org/homepage/index.asp

Breeders – https://www.thetba.co.uk/

Transporters – http://racehorse-transporters.org/index.php

 

 

Yards, Racecourses and Studs

On Monday 23 March, the UK Government introduced restrictions requiring people to stay at home as far as possible to help reduce the spread of the coronavirus outbreak. These restrictions will be in place initially for the three weeks following 23 March.

The official Government guidance can be read here.

Government introduced three new measures:

  1. Requiring people to stay at home, except for very limited purposes
  2. 2. Closing non-essential shops and community spaces
  3. Stopping all gatherings of more than two people in public

Can staff working at racing yards or studs still go to work?

The guidance stipulates that people can leave home to travel to and from work “only where this absolutely cannot be done from home.”

On this basis, and provided that travel is strictly limited to the express purposes outlined by Government, travel directly to work to care for horses may continue. 

Staff who are essential to the care of horses in respect of the above, and who absolutely cannot work from home, should continue to travel to work during the period of these restrictions.

Can groundstaff still go to work?

Our current interpretation of the guidance, informed by conversations with DCMS, is that groundstaff may still travel to work to perform core outdoor duties on racecourses or at other facilities, provided requirements around social distancing and gatherings of no more than two people are followed.

For further advice, please contact the RCA.

Will the new restrictions affect the way I operate my yard or stud?

Horses should of course be cared for at all times – including access to food and water, clean bedding and exercise. Many business will require staff to travel to work to provide this.

Our current understanding is that, in order to adhere to Government guidance, the standard of care should be focused primarily on upholding their welfare, rather than their fitness to race. Any non-essential activity beyond this should be carefully considered and, where possible, avoided.

Staff at yards MUST follow Government advice relating to social distancing when outside – remaining at least two metres apart and avoiding gatherings of more than two people, apart from members of their own household, at any time.

Will my main suppliers (e.g. of feed, bedding, etc.) remain open?

The Government has advised that pet shops will remain open for access to supplies for animals, and we understand that this will also apply to suppliers of feed, bedding and appropriate veterinary medicines.

Some restrictions or staffing/supply chain issues may apply in relation to individual businesses, so you are advised to check direct with your suppliers.

Any business encountering disruptions in supply should make their membership body (e.g. NTF, TBA) aware as soon as possible. We are - and will remain - in discussions with Defra on this

Will vets still be open for business and able to visit?

The Royal College of Veterinary surgeons has advised its members to reduce face-to-face veterinary consultations to focus on emergency appointments, fulfilment of urgent prescriptions and maintaining the food supply chain. Please be mindful of this when contacting or consulting your veterinary surgeon or supplier.

Please be conscious that some veterinary practices may have additional restrictions in place, e.g. caused by staffing shortages if staff are self-isolating.

Are Farriers considered essential and will they be able to visit?

The Farriers Registration Council (FRC)’s interpretation of the Government guidance is that Registered Farriers can continue to provide essential services to equines, and they should continue to attend to equines using their judgement as to matters of priority and/or urgency, with provisos around hygiene and social distancing. This advice is subject to change.

Further updates

This is our current guidance, based on liaison with Defra and DCMS in relation to specific issues impacting on animal welfare, and general advice to businesses. It is possible that Government will further refine or clarify its own guidance over the coming days, which may make it necessary to amend this guidance to the racing industry.

The Government has already outlined support packages for workers who can be furloughed and paid at 80% of their wages in the period. For more information, please speak to your membership organisation.

 

Industry protocols for Breeders

The TBA has produced a guide for Breeders, which can be downloaded here:

Industry protocols for Breeders

The TBA COVID-19 page also has a number of useful templates for breeders:

TBA COVID-19 page

Weatherbys Vaccination App/E-Passport

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic we have had to make a number of necessary changes to raceday operations.

These changes will enable a resumption of racing that ensures the highest standards of safety and operational efficiency for your staff and ours.

One of these measures is to pre-clear vaccinations in horse passports thereby reducing the need for BHA staff and those responsible for the horses to come into contact with one another and risk breaking the social distancing rules. As well as bringing raceday operational improvements the vaccination app will also help prevent any raceday administrative issues around vaccination records.

Once the vaccination history has been cleared by the BHA, all future and subsequent vaccinations between the pre-clearance and race day should be uploaded directly by those responsible for the horse onto the Weatherbys Vaccination App.

The use of the Weatherbys Vaccination App will continue post Covid so the benefits of uploading and managing data at this stage will be felt for many years to come. The App will be integrated into a fully functioning E-Passport for the 2021 foal crop and all horses in training, with enhanced functionality to include, identification, medications, equine movement and ownership.  

Financial

VAT
Ensuring that fees are paid is obviously paramount, and with the ROA’s Tote/Britbet owner-sponsorship scheme owners can continue to recover the VAT incurred during the suspension of racing.  In addition, we would like to remind owners who are yet to register for VAT, that timeframes do apply for backdating the recovery on the original purchase and any associated expenses. Please do contact us directly to discuss these options, or if you have any concerns on this matter.

Find out more about the ROA's Tote/Britbet scheme here.

 

ROA Members Third Party Liability scheme

During this very difficult time we are mindful that owners may have horses whose seasons have had to finish prematurely, or who will have been sent away from their trainers’ yards for a prolonged period of rest or turnout. We would remind members to check with the ​owners/proprietors of such premises that they have the requisite Third Party Liability cover in place (for a minimum limit of indemnity of £2 million, but ideally for up to £5 million).

If your racehorse(s) normally return to your home or your own premises for their rest periods, or if you are intending to do this due to the exceptional current circumstances you should check your liability cover will extend to include these. Most household policies include domestic animals; whilst this may include leisure horses and ponies it may not include racehorses whilst resting.

Should you have any queries please use the attached link to contact details for our insurance brokers Weatherbys Hamilton who will be happy to help https://www.roa.co.uk/benefits/third.html.


Bloodstock Insurance:
You may not be aware, but Owners who have insured against all risks of mortality might be due a partial refund (return of premium) if the use is reduced, perhaps while a jumps horse is temporarily out of training, or where a horse is sold/retired.   It is worth checking with your insurers whether they will be making automatic readjustments.
 
 

Helplines

Wellbeing

Racing Welfare - 0800 6300 443 https://racingwelfare.co.uk/contact/

NHS 111https://111.nhs.uk/covid-19/

NHS Guidance
https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

Mind - 0300 123 3393 

Great British Racing Wellbeing Toolkit: Here

Extremely vulnerable people who have received an NHS letter:

If you have received an NHS letter or are caring for someone who has, you can register for further support here www.gov.uk/cornonavirus-extremely-vulnerable or call 0800 028 8327, the government’s new dedicated helpline. 

In Wales, you should have received a letter if at higher risk. If you are in need of extra assistance, you will be advised to contact your local authority for support (contact details will be included in your letter). Any health or social care services you're already receiving, through you local authority, will continue and your health or social care provider will be asked to take additional precautions to make sure you are protected.
In Scotland, if you've received an NHS letter and are in need of extra assistance, you will be provided with details of your local support service. You will also be given details of a text message 
service if you need to arrange a weekly delivery of essentials including medication. Read more on nhsinform.scot. For those at high risk without family or community support, a national helpline has also been set up: 0800 111 4000Read more
In Northern Ireland, GPs will be writing to those most at risk to provide more detailed advice. A helpline is also now available on 0808 802 0020 and you can access help and guidance by emailing covid19@adviceni.net or texting: ACTION to 81025.

 

Government Help:

https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus

Online:

COVID-19: support for businesses

Guidance for employers and businesses on coronavirus (COVID-19)

COVID-19: guidance for employees

All businesses and self-employed people in financial distress, and with outstanding tax liabilities, may be eligible to receive support with their tax affairs through HMRC’s Time To Pay service.

These arrangements are agreed on a case-by-case basis and are tailored to individual circumstances and liabilities.

Eligibility

You are eligible if your business:

  • pays tax or duties to the UK government
  • has outstanding tax liabilities

Webchat

Advisers can only talk to you about problems paying your taxes due to coronavirus (COVID-19). This could be:

  • Self Assessment
  • VAT
  • employers’ PAYE
  • Corporation Tax

They will not be able to transfer you to another webchat team. Speak to an adviser.

Phone

Due to measures put in place to stop the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) we have fewer advisers available to answer your calls.

Telephone: 0800 024 1222

Opening times: Monday to Friday: 8am to 4pm

Workplace Guidance
https://www.gov.uk/guidance/social-distancing-in-the-workplace-during-coronavirus-covid-19-sector-guidance

Information for Employers and Business
For general guidance visit the following pages:

ACAS – https://www.acas.org.uk/coronavirus

 

Information for Employees and the Self-Employed

Check if you are eligible for the Job Retention Scheme here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/check-if-you-could-be-covered-by-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme

 

General

News from the Health and Safety Executive: https://www.hse.gov.uk/news/coronavirus.htm#